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Old 02-06-2010, 21:26   #1
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Teak Replacement - Can I Do It ?

My Beneteau 41S5's cockpit and companionway teak is in bad shape and needs to be completely replaced. It all sits in recessed fiberglass lazarette covers/cockpit seats with no visible screws or filled screw holes. I think it is stuck in place with epoxy resin and 404 and caulked with SIS 400. Those details are from the boatyard, who I trust by the way, and who quoted me nearly $4,000 to replace it.

My questions are: Is this something that a person who is handy with wood – me – could handle themselves? Could I “chisel” the old wood out, would it stay in individual pieces, and could I use those pieces as my patterns for the new wood? Is working with the epoxy resin within a normal, fairly handy guy’s abilities? And is that caulk forgiving or do you have to be perfect the first time??

$4,000 is a lot of dough for something that I think I can do for a hell of a lot less. What do you think? – Thanks!
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Old 02-06-2010, 22:27   #2
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Check the price of teak at ~$20.00 a board ft. Seriously, yes you can do it much cheaper if you don't put a price on your own labor. If you can fit two pieces of wood together it will not be an issue.
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Old 02-06-2010, 22:44   #3
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Tell me your source at $20 a board foot, I'll buy up the lot. Teak on the Left Coast is $27 a board foot.

Do you have a table saw and a power miter saw or access to one?? These are two tools that are invaluable in getting precision cuts and rabbeting caulk lines. Can be done with hand tools but that's usually what being a professional is all about. Yes you can probably do it with a little help from some tools. Hell I built a whole boat from a bare hull with little more experience than an 8th grade woodshop class and I still can't call myself a carpenter.

Power tools can usually be accessed at the local high school adult ed. classes in the evenings, btw. You'll probably need to buy a router, Speed block type sander, and possibly a belt sander or random orbit sander. I'm assuming that you have basic hand tools already.
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Old 03-06-2010, 08:14   #4
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Tell me your source at $20 a board foot, I'll buy up the lot. Teak on the Left Coast is $27 a board foot.

Do you have a table saw and a power miter saw or access to one?? These are two tools that are invaluable in getting precision cuts and rabbeting caulk lines. Can be done with hand tools but that's usually what being a professional is all about. Yes you can probably do it with a little help from some tools. Hell I built a whole boat from a bare hull with little more experience than an 8th grade woodshop class and I still can't call myself a carpenter.

Power tools can usually be accessed at the local high school adult ed. classes in the evenings, btw. You'll probably need to buy a router, Speed block type sander, and possibly a belt sander or random orbit sander. I'm assuming that you have basic hand tools already.
What I would have to do is to find a place on St Martin to rent the space and the tools or haul the wood home. I live in Alaska and my boat is in the Caribbean. Are these slats all separate pieces or are they planks with grooves cut for the caulk to show as consistent with the separation between planks?
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Old 03-06-2010, 08:33   #5
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Back up a minute. What makes you think the teak needs to be replaced. The teak on my boat is 35 years old and I can bring it back to life with a little cleaning and elbow grease. Got a picture?
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Old 03-06-2010, 09:13   #6
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Back up a minute. What makes you think the teak needs to be replaced. The teak on my boat is 35 years old and I can bring it back to life with a little cleaning and elbow grease. Got a picture?
I do, but not with me. The wood itself is grooved and worn down. It is now below the level of the surrounding fiberglass lip. I think I'll get to the photos tomorrow and will post them. Thanks.
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:07   #7
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Found one. What do you think?.
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:26   #8
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I'm not sure it needs replacing. The caulk obviously does.

To save a lot of money you could remove the old caulk, give the teak a light sand and recaulk and see what its like.

If then you think the whole lot needs changing do so, the price of the caulking is expendable.

Maybe there is a better way of doing the timber than sanding. We havent treated our in anyway, except for salt water and sometimes a soapy bath where it gets dirty from hand oil (the companionway grab rails).

A bit of grooving may appear less noticable with a good treatment and new caulk.


Or take a cruise to Thailand and have it done there! Its still very expensive, even there.
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:34   #9
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Maybe the pictures are deceptive, but to my eye that wood doesn't look bad at all. Teak by its nature will be grooved and turn silvery. It looks like it badly needs recaulking. I would really let a pro look at it, because the Sikaflex joints in teak are done in a very specific way.

This might be different if it has been sanded brutally or repetitively and there no space left in the v-shaped grooves to hold the Sikaflex. Or if it has rotted from underneath.

The wood may or may not benefit from a little careful sanding to take off the high points. Again, as long as you don't expect the teak to look carmel-colored like in boat brochures -- a look it will keep for no more than a year or two in the sun anyway -- and as long as you don't let it rot out from underneath or glop oil on it or chemicals, teak lasts for decades.

Another tip -- don't ever, ever wash teak with a pressure washer, and don't ever, ever scrub it in the direction of the grain. You rip it to shreds that way, because teak is comprised of hard bands of tough material interlaced with bands of very soft material, which is what gives it is texture. Wash it gently across the grain and pour salt water on it regularly and take care of the caulking, and otherwise just leave it alone, and it will last for ages.
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:39   #10
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Yeah, if it was me I would redo the caulk and clean teak with scrub brush or bronze pad. Then either start with epoxy and/or varnish then finish with varnish till I had built up about 20 coats. Should fill in the groves after that many coats. It does look like my teak and if treated and maintained should stop the wear and tear. I would try that before spending for new teak. If it does not come out right then think about replacing. Good luck
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:47   #11
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Yeah, if it was me I would redo the caulk and clean teak with scrub brush or bronze pad. Then either start with epoxy and/or varnish then finish with varnish till I had built up about 20 coats. Should fill in the groves after that many coats. It does look like my teak and if treated and maintained should stop the wear and tear. I would try that before spending for new teak. If it does not come out right then think about replacing. Good luck
That could be an excellent way to do it if it is in condition too poor to leave natural, and this would stop any further wear and fill up the gaps and grooves. Great idea.

But just decide carefully -- varnished teak and natural teak are two entirely different animals, and you can never go back once you've varnished it. I personally wouldn't do it if the teak is not too far gone to leave in its natural state, which is much nicer.
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:05   #12
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It depends on how the teak's bonded to the boat and what the problem is.

Either way you're going to need to grind out the caulk, so start there. Whether the caulk is soft/raised/missing or bad, you're going to have to replace it so grind that out too. For the caulk use an air drill with I call a metal "pine cone shaped" bit (pointed end with flat sides) slightly smaller than the width of the caulk. Carefully grind out the caulk taking care not to grind the teak or gouge into the boat. Using a vacuum to suck up the ground out caulk is a good idea as does wearing goggles and a mask. This stuff is nasty and gets everywhere. Having a hose to wash yourself down will be a good idea.

If the teak is damaged near the caulk then you should be careful you don't damage the teak more than it already is. Once you've ground out all the caulk you can, use a chisel to remove what the drill missed. The idea is to get as much of the old bad stuff out as possible. Now you can get a look at the teak.

You'll need to measure the thickness, width and length of the teak to replace. It's important to note that the new piece(s) probably won't match the originals even with the dreaded "two part" teak cleaner. Depending on the teak glue adhesive and how well it was applied, getting the teak pieces out may not come easily. Or in one piece.

Using a chisel and making sure both sides of the offending teak are clear of caulk, remove the bad piece. If you can get a reasonably sized piece then you can use it to shop for the replacement teak. There are a number of shades of teak and you may luck out. As with the caulk, the idea is to get the area under the removed teak smooth and free of glue and gunk.

Cut replacement pieces and using some of those tile wedges (those gizmo's that keep the tile in place while you glue it down) or make your own. It might be time to chat up some of your dive/muzzleloader/fishing lure buddies to get a bunch of lead weight.

Dry fit; making sure they're parallel to the other pieces, are the same height as the other pieces, and are the proper length. Now you can use whatever glue you like to glue the pieces down. Bear in mind that the teak will absorb some of the glue and that you don't want the glue to splooge. Put on a bunch of weights and go get some blue tape.

Once the glue's dry and the teak set, check that the caulk area is clean. If so, then tape off the edges of the teak boards on each side and end of the removed caulk area. If you think getting the caulk out or teak up is tough, getting black caulk out of new teak is the definition of impossible (unless you're willing to grind down the new teak - and old). Vacuum any stuff out of the groove and make sure it's clean. Then you can apply the caulk. Most of the pro's use an air powered caulking gun, but if you're patient, you can do as good a job. The idea is to leave no valleys or gaps. Bulges are OK as they'll get shaved off later.

Once everything's set use a blade to remove any bulging caulk. The caulk seems to eat blade edges so change them often. If you dip the blade in water, chances are it'll slide a bit smoother. Remove the tape, take the "after" picture (You did take a before one?) and admire your work. Now you've got and idea of the work to replace teak. And yours wasn't glued to doorskin, the edges not dovetailed, or screwed to the deck.
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Old 03-06-2010, 12:14   #13
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Have you considered replacing the teak with one of the new composite materials like flexiteek (Flexiteek - Home). I don't have any interest in the companies or any experience with the products, so don't take this as a suggestion, just something to consider before laying out the dollars and man-hours.
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Old 03-06-2010, 13:11   #14
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Have you considered replacing the teak with one of the new composite materials like flexiteek (Flexiteek - Home)..
I've never heard of that stuff but will take a look I think. I also appreciate the hell out of the suggestions and time taken here to try to help me out. One of my biggest concerns is that this boat is 5,000 miles from me and I don't want to spend my vacation time.... you know, working!

I think if I had the shop there I would do the entire job myself. Maybe the picture doesn't show it very well, but the wood is severely, deeply grooved. I know it's the natural grain of the teak and that the softwood is what has worn down over time. If I were to just treat the wood and replace/refurb the caulking, it would still be low and tend to collect water sitting in the low spots.

I won't be going back down until after hurricane season - maybe I'll win the lottery before then and just tell the yard to do it.
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Old 03-06-2010, 13:20   #15
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Have you considered replacing the teak with one of the new composite materials like flexiteek (Flexiteek - Home). I don't have any interest in the companies or any experience with the products, so don't take this as a suggestion, just something to consider before laying out the dollars and man-hours.
One word: Ick.

I would rather have the shabbiest teak in the world, then that cr*p.

Which is a matter of taste of course.
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